Labour leads among UK students, but three in 10 still undecided

Young voters ‘desperate for politicians to offer them more’, feeling that MPs don’t value their views

April 17, 2024
A 2017 polling station in Hove with a voter leaving after voting.
Source: iStock/ace66

Labour has a strong lead in voting preferences among UK students ahead of a general election expected later this year, but nearly one in three is yet to make up their mind over who to support.

In a survey of 5,200 learners conducted by the National Union of Students, 89 per cent of respondents aged 18 or over said that they were registered to vote and 87 per cent of these said that they intended to have their say in the poll.

Among those intending to vote, Labour was by far the most popular party, backed by 38 per cent of respondents. It was followed by the Greens (11 per cent), with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives tied on 5 per cent. There was 3 per cent support for the Scottish National Party and 2 per cent for Reform UK.

However, 30 per cent of respondents said they were yet to decide who they would vote for.

Almost three-quarters of respondents – 73 per cent – disagreed that politicians generally valued the views of young people, with only 8 per cent agreeing.

Bernie Savage, the NUS’ vice-president for further education, said that students are “ready to turn up at the next election, but they are desperate for politicians to offer them more”.

“That nine in 10 students are registered is really encouraging and suggests students will have a huge impact on the outcome of the next poll,” he said.

“There are more than 4.5 million students and apprentices in our universities and colleges – we’re about 10 per cent of the voting population of the UK. If we turn up at the ballot box students will have a huge impact on the future of the country.

“Politicians and political parties should pay attention and listen to the concerns of students and young people, who represent all of our futures.”

The general election expected later this year is the first in which voters will be required to show photo ID in order to be able to cast their vote. The vast majority of respondents held either a driving licence or passport, which would be accepted, but one in five did not believe that their identification would count as voter ID.

Opinion was split on whether universities and colleges should register their students to vote. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents supported this, arguing that it would encourage voting and make it easier, but 21 per cent were opposed, arguing that voter registration should be a choice.

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